Dating someone with a personality disorder can be difficult. Personality disorders highly impact an individual’s ability to have healthy and stable relationships in their life, whether romantic or not. However, many people with personality disorders do have long-term relationships.
If you’re dating someone or love someone with a personality disorder, you may be wondering how you can support them and be a good partner to them through their struggles. Being able to co-exist with someone is a crucial step in deepening your relationship. Here are five ways that you can be a good partner to someone with any personality disorder.
Do Research and Ask Them for Input
When your partner lets you know that they have a personality disorder, this means that they are trusting you with something very difficult. Personality disorders are highly stigmatized in the world, and it can feel scary for your partner to bring this up.
Instead of reacting defensively, commit to researching and learning about this condition. If your partner has resources available, read through those first. If you find something you’re not sure about while you’re looking through the options available, ask them. Your partner is the best expert on their own condition, and they can tell you if they experience a certain symptom or not.
Remember, not every person with a personality disorder acts or feels the same. There is a large variety of people with these conditions, so it’s important to not stereotype or limit your partner by putting them into boxes.
Set Firm Boundaries
Always have firm boundaries but be loving and kind about them. Your partner may struggle with accepting or understanding boundaries, so you may have to reassure them when setting one. However, setting boundaries can help both you and your partner continue to have a healthy relationship.
If you allow your partner to do something you’re not comfortable with, this can end up in resentment or hurt in the future. If you do something your partner is uncomfortable with, this could trigger distressing symptoms. Always be very clear about what your boundaries are.
If you want to learn more about why boundaries are important when someone in a relationship has a personality disorder, you can also read more on this topic at BetterHelp’s blog.
Encourage Them To Get Help When Needed
Always encourage your partner to get help and support from multiple areas of their life. Try not to be their only support if you can help it. If your partner is wary about starting therapy, show them the many options available. For example, online therapy is becoming more and more popular.
You can even help your partner come up with a crisis plan if they need it. A crisis plan can have information on whom to call in case of a mental health crisis, including local emergency numbers, social contacts, etc. You can also plan out coping skills in advance to help them when they’re in a moment where they are struggling to come up with ideas.
Don’t React With Rage
Although some symptoms of your partner’s personality disorder may make you upset or angry, try not to react with rage, violence, or extreme stress in front of your partner. Escalated emotions tend to make things worse. Instead, validate your partner’s emotions, and then let them know that you need some space to think and feel your emotions.
If your partner does not respect your boundaries, this may be something you need to talk about with a couple’s therapist. A personality disorder doesn’t excuse mistreating or hurting someone. If your partner is acting physically abusive in any way, this is not a safe relationship.
You can get help for domestic violence by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). They are available 24/7.
Be Validating and Empathetic
Finally, always try to be validating, open, and empathetic with your partner. Although their emotions may not make sense to you, do not tell your partner this. Instead, tell them that it’s okay to feel strongly and that you care deeply about how they are feeling.
Ask if there’s any way you can help them, and ask what type of loving connection they’d like at the moment. For example, some people may feel better with physical affection, whereas others feel better with words of affirmation and love. Don’t assume that your partner is the same as everyone else with their condition. Always ask them what they need and be empathetic to those needs.
Also, remember that it’s okay if you can’t meet your partner’s needs at the moment, and you can also communicate if you need to take space or time away.
Note:- This post was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.